Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bisexuality & STDs

STDs are not something I want to think about much less talk about, but they are something every bisexual man should think about and be knowledgeable about. Some guys think if they just use a condom for anal sex and don't swallow cum in oral sex they are playing it safe. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The subject of STDs has been on my mind lately because articles in the Houston Chronicle have pointed out that Houston is one of the leading cities in the United States for infections of Syphilis among men who have sex with men. That is not surprising. Houston is a cosmopolitan city. It is one of the largest port cities in the United States and it is a port of entry for foreign travelers.  All that combined with other risk factors makes the transmittal of Syphilis and other STDs a real threat.

The other day on another blog I follow, the blogger posted a letter about meeting up with a guy who was ready to do some barebacking and who had also offered the use of his Poppers. Fortunately, the blogger had the good sense to shut the guy down on both the barebacking and the Poppers.

A few commenters mentioned to the blogger that the guy was evidently a risk taker and that he was thus not someone with whom he should be in contact. As one commenter correctly said, "unsafe sex is unsafe sex." And that is true. No one who wants to play it safe would ever think about having anal intercourse without using a condom, but HIV is spread by unsafe and unprotected sex and while a condom might protect a guy from HIV, it will not protect him from other STDs (sexually transmittable diseases).

Having a career in a health and medical related field, I have always had great respect and downright fear of STDs. Any guy that is into male/male sex should have the same fear laced with a great deal of caution. I don't think the average guy realizes there are several hundred different STDs out there and one or two of them are much easier to contract that is HIV and can be just as deadly or make you wish you were dead.

Among the list of most common STDs are Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Viral Hepatitis, Genital Herpes, HIV/AIDS, Human Papillomavirus, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Syphilis, Trichomonlasis, Public Lice and Scabies.

None of these are anything one would enjoy dealing with. HIV, Syphilis, Gonorrhea and Hepatitis can be deadly.

HIV is transmitted by direct sexual contact when body fluids (semen or blood) from an infected person comes into contact with the mucous membranes of another person. Mucous membranes are located in the mouth, the vagina, inside the penis in the urinary track and inside the anal opening. Once almost 100% deadly, HIV/AIDS is now manageable for longer terms but it cannot be cured as yet and it still can be very debilitating and difficult to manage.

Syphilis is presently a growing health problem, especially among men who have sex with other men. In recent years 64% of all Syphilis cases have occurred among men who have sex with other men. The bacterial infection can take hold in the external genitals, vagina, anus, throat or rectum. One of the frightening things about Syphilis is that many people infected with it do not have any symptoms for years. They may thus unknowingly transmit the disease to others.

The Primary Stage of Syphilis begins often with a single sore or chancre (pronounced as kank er) at the point of infection. The chancre is usually firm, round, small and painless. It lasts from 3 to 6 weeks then it heals without treatment. However the healing of the chancre does not mean the disease is healed. It just signals the Secondary Stage.

In the Secondary Stage there may be skin rash and lesions of the mucous membranes. The rash usually does not itch and is usually rough, red or brownish red. It is usually more prevalent on the palms of the hands or the bottom of the feet, but can appear elsewhere. Sometime the rash is so faint it will not be noticed. Other affects at this stage are headaches, weight loss, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, hair loss and swollen lymph nodes. Again the signs and symptoms will resolve with or without treatment, but without treatment the Latent Stage begins.

In the Latent stage, which can last for years, infection remains in the body causing damage to internal organs including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints. Eventually the damage is serious enough to cause death.

Gonorrhea is a serious infection. In men it may have no symptoms at all so the infected man may unknowingly infect other men. If there are symptoms it might be a white, yellow or green discharge from the penis. Sometimes the testicles will be painful and swollen.

Gonorrhea is spread when the penis contacts the mouth or anus. Ejaculation does not have to take place for the infection to be transmitted. Left untreated, Gonorrhea may cause serious and permanent health problems.

There are three strains of Hepatitis. These are referred to as A, B & C. Hepatitis A is transmitted by fecal matter contacting the mouth either via food or in male/male sexual activities such as rimming. Hepatitis A is self limiting. There is a vaccination to prevent the disease. Hepatitis interferes with proper functioning of the liver and can cause abdominal pain along with lack of energy and fatigue.

Hepatitis B is transmitted by exposure to the semen, vaginal secretions and saliva of an infected sexual partner. Type B can be self limiting or it can become chronic. A vaccination can prevent the disease.

Hepatitis C is a chronic condition and can be a deadly one. It is not effectively transmitted sexually but has been found to be sexually transmitted in some persons with HIV. Transmission is from blood to blood. This make the sharing of drug needles very risky behavior.

So, one can see just by looking at a few of the more common (all too common) STDs, there is cause for concern and caution. Most men who have sex with men probably use a condom for anal intercourse, but most men who have sex with men do not use a condom for oral play. And unfortunately, mouth/penis contact can be a very effective way of spreading STDs with or without ejaculation.

As a bisexual man who had sexual contact with my wife as well as my buddy, STDs have always been a great concern for me and for her. I have limited my chances of exposure by NOT having casual sex with guys. My sexual contacts have been with long term sexual partners in relationships that have been measured in years and with a partner who was having sex only with me. This lessens the risk, but it does not eliminate it.

A good way of looking at this is just to look around you and notice the people with whom you would not want to have sex. Then remember, every time you have sex with a guy, you are in effect having sex with every person that guy has ever had sex with and with everyone each of his partners have had sex with. It's a sobering thought. And as a married man, you should have sober thoughts about it. The element of danger cannot be denied.

When I am on line or signed in to one of the groups that exist for men who have sex with other men, those men who seek out casual anonymous sex with other men are always present. Frankly, I go way out of my way to avoid having anything to do with any guy who I think has ever had a casual sexual encounter. Its just not worth the risk. There are a lot of guys out there who are willing to take the time to know a guy before he gets sexually involved with them. That is not a fool proof way of avoiding danger, but it sure doesn't  hurt.

Before I put anything in my mouth, I want to know all about where its been. That means not only getting to know the guy over a period of time but making a judgement about the truthfulness of what's he telling me about himself.

If he's willing to have sex with you on a moment's notice, if he's willing to have unsafe sex with you, you can bet he's been behaving the same way with a whole lot of other guys over a long period of time. As for me, I don't want anything to do with that guy.

Be safe. There is danger out there. As a man who has sex with other men, you should consider telling your family physician about it simply because there are some STDs that do not have symptoms or do not have them right away. Knowing you are in a higher risk segment of the population, your family physician can better keep an eye on your health if he is aware of the risks. Remember that the Federal Health Information Privacy Information Accountability Act (HIPAA) insures that your doctor cannot discuss your health issues with anyone without your permission, so you can count on your doctor holding your sexual status in strict confidence.

If you want to see pictures of Syphilis and Gonorrhea you can Google them. I thought about including them in this blog but decided they were just too graphic.

Jack Scott


  1. The personality and attitude screening you talk about seems to be a common sense way to protect yourself. But isn't that method self-deceptive?

    Sure the guy you're about to blow seems cautious and genuine, but that doesn't necessarily mean he didn't have a drunken encounter a few months ago where he did things he doesn't usually do.

    Isn't the sad truth that the only safe sex is sheathed sex, both oral and anal, at all times? That's a real bummer, especially for oral sex, or rimming. But to be safe, isn't that the ONLY option?

  2. I remember the huge Herpes outbreak that came to light in the late 70s. It was all over the news, and it's hard to believe, but at that time, people were actually committing suicide over it. Probably because they couldn't face the truth of its origin with their spouses, and the consequence it would bring.

    As a result, I was always extremely careful about who I was with and what we were doing. I never developed an STD or health complication, but I remember at the time listening to many of the news articles about this. They warned of the danger of mutating viruses, and the problems that result. Call me psychic, or perhaps just lucky--but I knew right then and there that something else was coming. Perhaps some unknown virus coming back from the Viet Nam veterans and prostitutes they encountered. Some new strain of syphilis, or who knows what. This was another health concern that no one seemed to heed. I just couldn't understand how cavalier people could be with their lives. Then came HIV and AIDS, and I once again knew how right I was to trust my instinct.

    Eventually, I was involved in an exclusive relationship with someone who eventually revealed that he is HIV positive, six months into the relationship. SIX MONTHS LATER!

    Thank God we were always safe in what we did together, and thank God I was negative after I was tested. But to knowingly conceal that information from me was unthinkable! How could anyone do that to somebody?

    To ask "how?" at this point is a meaningless question. My point is that people can lie and deceive. As a result, along with all the other life experience I've accumulated, I can't take people's honesty at face value. I have a hard time believing that anyone tells the truth about themselves at first meeting. In turn, I would never jump in to any type of relationship with anyone that's significant, care free and trusting. I don't trust anyone, and in the grand scheme of things, I think I'm much better off.

  3. Two Lives, yes it is a shame that truly safe sex is almost impossible. The best one can do is improve his odds by using his intuition and his head.

    I know of two guys who went and got tested for STDs and then promised to have sex only with each other. That is a common sense approach that will work IF each is honest.


  4. Thank you for this post. It needs to be said. I had hoped that there would be more response but I'm not surprised. Each and every time I see this topic mentioned, it is invariably met with silence on these gay/bi married men blogs. Unfortunate because if they are really serious about reducing the risk you would think they would be eager to get information from a source they can trust... Instead the subject is avoided like the plague.

  5. Savon, I appreciated your 9/6/11 comment because I had to struggle to convince myself to write "Bisexuality & STDs."

    Frankly, I didn't want to write the piece; but like you, I feel the topic is too often ignored and too frequently considered only in a cavalier attitude. Too many men run around playing with fire convinced that they could never possibly be burned.

    I expected some blowback on the piece. I'm pleased that hasn't happened. As you mention there has not been a lot of comment, but hopefully some guys have read it and will remember its cautionary tone the next time they are tempted to get into a potentially dangerous situation.

    I understand it is difficult sometimes to take seriously something you have never personally seen or been affected by. As a guy who spent his career in the medical and public health arena, I have seen it all first hand.

    Its somewhat like an automobile crash. We all get in our automobiles every day and we never really think that we could die in a crash. Yet, in a city the size of Houston, people do die in automobile crashes almost every day. Most of us consciously and unconsciously guard ourselves from such crashes by obeying the driving rules and driving defensively, looking out for the idiots who might not be obeying the rules.

    We should do at least as much in our sexual encounters. The guys who are obviously in the fast lane of life, clearly out for themselves and no one else, ignoring all the rules and clearly not thinking beyond their next orgasm are dangerous guys and should be avoided.

    Strangers and casual hook ups are dangerous guys simply because you know nothing about them other than the fact that both you and they are more than willing to engage in inherently dangerous sexual hook ups. When you play with fire often enough, sooner or later, you get burned.

    Being 100% safe and living a well rounded and rewarding life are not compatible. But in our sex lives as well as the other areas of our lives we should always be aware of the risk and calculate them carefully, mitigating them as much as possible. To do less is foolishness.

    Jack Scott

  6. Jack,
    My background is health care, too. Maybe that's why this topic gets me so worked up. You are right to warn people. Even if only a tiny fraction listen, you will have saved some family a lot of misery


I deeply regret that I must reinstate the verification process for those who want to leave comments on my blog. This is due to the intolerable amount of spam that spammers are attempting to leave on the blog.

At the same time I am changing settings so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will not have to have your comments moderated. My hope is this will encourage more readers to take the time to comment. The fact is I want to read comments with those of you who disagree with me as well as those of you who agree with me. All I ask is that you keep your comments clean and non-threatening.

The only reason I take the time to write this blog is to spur your thoughts and comments. Please do not let the spammers cause you not to comment. I know entering the verification words and numbers is a pain in the ass, but I hope you will not let the spammers cause you not to comment.

I still very much look forward to hearing from you.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott